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Lita M. Popke
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Lita M. Popke Retired Judge, Wayne County Circuit Court

Latest Insights
Upcoming Events
General Biography
Practice Areas
Business Commercial
Class Action & Mass Tort
Construction Defect
Employment Law
Family Law
Personal Injury
Real Property
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
Background and Education

Lita Masini Popke, Retired Judge, Wayne County Circuit Court, joins JAMS in Detroit after a distinguished 20-year career as a Wayne County (Mich.) Circuit Court judge, including service as chief judge pro tem and as presiding judge in the Family Law Division.

Judge Popke spent six years on Wayne County’s Business Court, where she was known for efficiently managing the litigation before her, taking a hands-on approach to practical and cost-conscious solutions.

On the family law bench, Judge Popke championed the needs of families. During her 12 years of service in Wayne County’s Family Law Division, she enhanced the credibility of the family court system for both attorneys and litigants by taking action on referee reporting requirements, promoting federally funded programs for father involvement and as a member of the Child Support Leadership Council.

Judge Popke believes that alternative dispute resolution gives parties control over their matter with meaningful settlements that might not be available in court. She is an adept problem solver with a keen ability to identify paths to settlement.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Business court leader and frequent user of facilitation processes on the bench
  • Board Member, Mediation Tribunal Association, 2009–2013
  • Mediator, 1992–2000
  • Member, Committee on Civil Discovery Rules, Subcommittee on Scope and Course of Discovery, 2017–2019
  • Strong record of work in domestic relations, including work with Michigan’s Friend of the Court system, which assists the court by enhancing opportunities for settlement of custody issues

Representative Matters

  • Business Commercial
    • Judge Popke adjudicated a wide range of matters during her tenure on the Wayne County Circuit Court and has a strong record of affirmance on appeal, including in the following areas:

      • Approval of disclosure-only class action settlement, including an analysis of fairness, reasonableness and adequacy in the Compuware shareholder litigation
      • Adjudication of a matter involving the general retirement system of the City of Detroit
      • International dispute between a Mexican operations executive and a Michigan auto manufacturer involving determination of applicability of Mexican law, alleged breach of employment contract, ELCRA claim and taxation of costs
      • Warranty dispute between manufacturer and purchaser of heavy-duty truck involving claims of fraud and misrepresentation, breach of express and implied warranties, and revocation of acceptance
      • Determination of reasonable attorneys’ fees and attorney’s lien after withdrawal from case
      • Noncompete agreement, tortious interference, unfair competition and civil conspiracy allegations between former employee, former employer and new employer
      • Evidentiary rulings regarding admissibility of emails in a business defamation matter and conversion of business case
      • Analysis of non-competition agreement and the Michigan statute (MCL 445.774a), trade secret issues and prohibition against solicitation
      • Supply chain litigation
      • Election issues, including residency claim against candidate for mayor of Detroit
      • Daubert hearing in medical malpractice case with extensive expert testimony; negotiated a settlement with the parties before ruling on the Daubert issue
      • In private practice, handled construction and surety disputes involving public university systems and private contractors
      • Adjudicated construction defect cases involving liability of general contractor, architect, engineer, subcontractors, suppliers and sureties
      • Litigation involving member disputes over ownership and dissolution of companies engaged in legal cannabis sales
  • Employment Law
    • In the Civil Division, Judge Popke dealt with the following representative matters in employment cases:

      • Trial of employee against corporation for wrongful discharge and whistleblower claims
      • Assisted in settlement of litigation by a CEO and principal of a high school for breach of contract, whistleblower claims, intentional interference and defamation
      • Matter involving age discrimination, retaliation, disparate impact by executive against major automotive company
      • Litigation against city for race discrimination and wrongful discharge
      • Trial of race discrimination case by dancers against a strip club resulting in verdict
      • Claims for hostile work environment and retaliation against major automotive company
      • Racial discrimination and hostile work environment claims against a state corrections authority
      • Suit by former county executive for wrongful discharge, whistleblower claims and intentional infliction of emotional distress
      • Litigation for national origin discrimination
  • Family Law
    • On the Family Law Division bench, Judge Popke routinely addressed the following issues:

      • Allocation of parenting responsibilities in all kinds of cases
      • Parenting time
      • Relocation of children from the vicinity of the family’s original home
      • College contribution
      • Division of executive compensation
      • Provision and modifications of maintenance to one spouse
      • Valuation and distribution of personal property collections
      • Allocation of family debts

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

  • Board Member, Mediation Tribunal Association, 2009–2013
    • The Mediation Tribunal Association, Inc. (MTA) is a non-profit corporation that provides ADR services under Michigan Court Rules MCR 2.403, MCR 2.404, MCR 2.410, MCR 2.411, and MCR 3.216
  • American Bar Association
    • Business Court Representative, Business Law Section, 2019–2021
    • Past Member, Fidelity and Surety Law Committee
  • Member, American College of Business Court Judges, 2015–2021
  • President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer; Michigan Judges Association; 2005-2021
  • State Bar of Michigan
    • Member, Judicial Section, 2008–2021
    • Treasurer, 2008
    • Member, Committee on Civil Discovery Rules, Subcommittee on Scope and Course of Discovery, 2017–2019
    • Former Member, ADR Subcommittee on Business Disputes, 2008–2017
  • Member, Child Support Leadership Council (by appointment of the Michigan Supreme Court), 2004–2009
  • Former Member, Michigan Judicial Institute Academic Advisory Committee
  • Former Faculty Member, Michigan Judicial Institute, New Judges Seminar
  • Former Member, Dads from Day One Advisory Board
  • Member, Michigan State Board of Ethics, 1992–2000
  • Member, Schoolcraft College Development Board Authority, 2002–present
  • Catholic Central High School
    • Mentor, Moot Court, 2013–2015
    • Member, Mothers’ Club Board of Directors
  • Former Member, Oakland County Bar Association

Bar and Affinity Group Memberships

  • Past Member, Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association
  • Past Member, Irish American Lawyers Association
  • Past Member, Catholic Lawyers Association
  • Past Member, Women Lawyers Association of Michigan
  • Past Member, Federalist Society


  • State Bar of Michigan, 1983
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, 1983 
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, 1987
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, 1992 
  • Supreme Court of the United States, 1996

Selected Speaking Engagements

  • Speaker; Symposium on Corporate Oppression Actions; Wayne State University; 2019, 2020
  • Speaker, “How to Perfect an Appeal and Address Issues of Consequence to the Court at All Three Levels,” NEXT Conference, State Bar of Michigan/Institute for Continuing Legal Education, 2017
  • Speaker, Annual Conference, Michigan Defense Trial Counsel, 2017

Background and Education

  • Judge, Wayne County Circuit Court, 2000–2021
    • Civil Division, 2012–2021
    • Business Court, 2015–2021
    • Chief Judge Pro Tem, 2009-2013
    • Executive Committee, 2005–2013, 2016–2018
    • Presiding Judge, Family Division, 2005–2007
  • Attorney, Private Practice, 1983–2000
  • J.D., University of Detroit School of Law, 1983
  • B.A., English, St. Mary’s College, Indiana, 1980


This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More

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